Without a shadow of a doubt, Elvis is the greatest voice of all time. He forever changed music. As Peter Cooper (the editor for Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum) once said, Elvis was the man who changed the way we dress and the way we wear our hair. His authentic colored sound, his enigmatic presence, his alluring Southerm charm and scandalous moves have always fascinated me. His songs are certainly the soundtrack of my life.
The lure of Elvis Presley‘s Graceland drew us to Memphis. Home of blues and birthplace of Rock ‘n roll, Memphis has an irresistible soul. The musical mecca is absolutely beyond exciting. The day before we had visited the legendary Sun Studios, where an 18 year-old Presley recorded his first two songs. There we heard actual outtakes from the recording sessions of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and B.B. King and touched Elvis’ first microphone.
The world-renowned music legend was only 22 when he purchased the Graceland property in Memphis right after his big breakthrough in 1957 for just over $100,000. As much as an object of pilgrimage as a museum dedicated to the late Elvis Presley, the mansion is one of the most visited former private residences in the world behing the White House.
Graceland Platinum Tour
On our audio-guided tour, we immersed ourselves in Elvis‘ life. I was absolutely thrilled to be in the same place where the legend once relaxed with his family and friends. Fortunately, the crowds were low and we had the great opportunity to enjoy the tour at our own pace. The upper floor, which has been left untouched since August 16th 1977, is not open to the visitors as a matter of of respect.
Touring the former-home-turned-museum of Elvis Presley gave me the idea about the King´s bizarre tastes. The fact that the mansion was too small for a star of Elvis‘ calibre surprised me at first. But then, as I wandered around, I could feel the comforting warmth and welcoming atmosphere the mansion exudes. Graceland is not pretentious as I expected it would be. Although considered of one of the greatest icons of music, a King, a semi divine figure, the truth is that he seemed to keep his feet on the ground.
A black baby grand piano truly caught my eye in the living room. I could perfectly picture Elvis entertaining his guests singing and playing the piano to his favourites gospel and R&B songs or preparing a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich in the cozy kitchen. The most striking room is certainly the infamous Jungle Room, inspired by Elvis’ favourite holiday destination of Hawaii. Elvis really loved it. In fact, It was the only room he decorated himself.
Green carpeting, tree-like furniture, exotic plants, a waterfall and lots of animal prints give it a real Polynesian feeling. Interestingly, Elvis never called it the Jungle Room, for him was merely the “Den“. There he would take his breakfast at a cypress coffee table.
One of the most touching moments was when we visited the grave of Elvis at the quiet Meditation Garden. Next to him are the graves of his beloved family, all arranged in a semicircle with Elvis at the center.
At the exhibits, we saw Elvis´s enormous collection of gold and platinum awards, a pile of his movie scripts, his amazing jumpsuit collection, his acoustic and electric guitars, a replica of his wedding cake, his own handwritten notes and many more things. But, above all, seeing the famous black leather suit Elvis wore during his 1968 television special was what I liked most.
The King had a life-long love affair with motor cars. Some of his favorites are displayed at the Automobile Museum. Among many of Elvis Presley’s prized cars were his famous pink cadillac, a 1956 Lincoln Continental, a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 600 Limousine, a 1960 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, a red Jeep from Blue Hawaii, a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado, a 1975 Ferrari Dino, a 1973 Stutz Blackhawk, a 1970 Mercedes 280 SL and various motorcycles and motorized toys, including a go-cart, dune buggy, motorised three-wheelers and a pedal car.
In March of 1955 Elvis purchased a pink, 1954 Cadillac for himself and his band, “The Blue Moon Boys” to use as transportation. Unfortunately, a brake lining on the car caught fire and was destroyed. Shortly after, he bought a new Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60, in blue with a black roof. He had it painted by a neighbor and was nicknamed “Elvis Rose“. Elvis gave this car to his mother Gladys as a gift. This iconic pink cadillac always remained his mother’s favorite and has been on permanent display at Graceland for more than 30 years.
The classic 1956 Cadillac Eldorado was the epitome of Cadillac luxury and elegance. Elvis ordered this car in Alpine white with a white convertible top. In July of 1957, he had it customized. Elvis‘s initials “EP” entwined with a guitar and two musical notes were inscribed in leather to adorn the floormats and overhead.
This jet-back Ferrari Dino was purchased second hand by Elvis in October 1976. It was the only Ferrari he owned.
The very first car Stutz was sold to Elvis on October 9, 1970 for $ 26,500.
Elvis’ Custom Jets
We also had the opportunity to see Elvis Presley‘s custom-designed private planes, the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II. Named after the rock legend’s daughter, the Lisa Marie (a Convair 880) featured gold-flaked bathroom fixtures, suede sofas, leather-topped tables, a quadraphonic 8-track stereo system, and a sky-to-ground phone system. Elvis purchased the Lisa Marie from Delta Airlines for the substantial sum of $250,000 on April 17, 1975. After refurbishing, the total exceeded $600,000.
Rockabilly’s Burger Shop
After completing the tour, I was eager to engulf a big, bad hamburger!
Describing Elvis? He is the greatest who ever was, is or ever will be